Almost five months after it created history at the Indian box office, Aamir Khan-starrer PK continues to set new records. The film, directed by Rajkumar Hirani, has become the first movie to cross the Rs 100-crore mark at the Chinese box office, collecting Rs 107 crore ($16.68 million) since its release. This is also the first time a Bollywood film has achieved such a feat in an overseas territory. In recent years, Bollywood has looked at the Chinese box office with increasing bullishness. Apart from PK, the industry has exported My Name is Khan (2010), Dhoom 3 (2013), Happy New Year (2014) and 3 Idiots (2009). In fact, it was the popularity of 3 Idiots, also starring Aamir Khan and directed by Rajkumar Hirani, that gave Bollywood movies a new lease of life in the neighbouring country. Experts said the subject of the film, which dealt with the gaps in the education system, resonated with the audiences in South East Asia and China, leading to a roaring collection. The film had grossed $2.2 million in China.
In 2014, Happy New Year, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone, was released in around 5,000 screens. It collected $500,000 at the Chinese box office. In fact, the top three earners at the Chinese box office are Aamir Khan starrers – PK ($16.75 million), Dhoom 3 ($3 million) and 3 Idiots ($2.2 million). PK was released in 4,600 screens across China on May 22 and the results have surpassed the expectations of the film-makers. Initially, the film was set to release in 3,500 screens. But after a special star-studded premiere, Chinese exhibitors decided to increase the screen count to 4,500-plus screens. The premiere was held on May 13 at Shanghai Art Centre.
“PK is one of the most successful Indian movie in China and Huaxia Film Group was happy to distribute and promote the movie. Hope this movie's success brings more cultural exchange between China and India," said the Huaxia Film Group of China, who partnered UTV to distribute the film in the country.
“It is remarkable that five months post the release of PK, the movie is still experiencing such a glorious run across international markets. The tremendous China box office collections have proved that great stories have the potential to travel worldwide and we are thrilled that the film has transcended geographies and clocked in such great numbers. This is a new high for us and we hope the movie continues to impress the audiences across the globe,” said Amrita Pandey of UTV.
The movie has been co-produced by Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra in association with UTV. Apart from Aamir Khan, the movie stars Anushka Sharma, Boman IRani and Sanjay Dutt in pivotal roles.
The trio of Aamir Khan, Chopra and Hirani promoted the film extensively in China before the premiere, which was attended by around 100,000+ members of the Chinese Aamir Khan fan club, along with the representatives of the Indian Consulate as well as 400 odd members from the Indian community in China. And not just that, Chinese superstars Jackie Chan and Baoqiang Wang, who dubbed for Aamir Khan’s voice for the Chinese version of the film, were also present for the premiere of the film.
“We worked closely on all marketing and PR activations and in posturing and localising the film in the region. The film was dubbed by leading Chinese leading Talent - B Wang which gave it a definite additional local appeal. We traveled to China with the lead talent of the film to promote and premiere it in the region. We collaborated with local celebrities such as Jackie Chan while there,” says Pandey.
She adds that another key element that the studio factored in while strategizing was tailoring the content to Chinese audience sensibilities. The trailer was reworked on while Hirani worked on creating a version which appealed to the Chinese palate – one which put PK the Alien – as front and center of the campaign. The film was pitched as a fun filled fantasy experience. At the premiere in China, the talent launched the film by clicking on a giant sized transistor “Play” button – an important icon from the film.
|Film||Collection in China ($)|
|Dhoom 3||3 million|
|3 Idiots||2.2 million|
|Happy New Year||500, 000|
|My Name is Khan||71, 000|
Source: Industry experts and trade analysts